Tuesday, December 11, 2007

it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

♪Ev'rywhere you go;
Take a look in the five-and-ten, glistening once again
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow.♪

♪It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas,
Toys in ev'ry store,
But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be
On your own front door.♪

It's that time of year...I feel like there should be a soundtrack playing in the background all month long. Last weekend we brought in the box from the garage with the artificial tree, so it could defrost before we put it up. God decorated the whole outside here in glacial Minnesota with a covering of crisp, sparkly snow, and now it's my turn to decorate the inside of the house.

We picked up and swept, we gathered junk and tossed it out, and we made space for the Christmas tree. I know that it's time-consuming to put the tree up and decorate it, but it's a tradition I treasure.

Decorating the Christmas tree is like stepping into a time warp. Every ornament I unwrap releases a swirl of holiday memories. I think I managed to buy a Baby's First Christmas ornament for each one of the kids. We didn't have a lot of money when the kids were little, though, and I usually needed the money I had before Christmas to buy presents. So I almost always waited until after Christmas to rush over to Hallmark and Kemper Drug to see if their fancy ornaments had gone on sale. They were usually marked down anywhere from 50% to 75% off.

I could only afford to buy the ones that had gotten marked down. The kids didn't know that, and frankly, I don't think they would have cared. Those special ornaments let them know that each one of them had been a welcome gift to our family. All they needed to know was that their birth, their arrival, had been something to celebrate, and these decorations signified that they were special and loved.

Every Christmas, I carefully uncovered each precious ornament from the myriad of boxes, bags and totes in which they had been stored for the past year. The kids would wait for me to open the bag that held their special ornaments, and as soon as they were unearthed, they'd dive in, each looking for their own. I can still see them, standing on tiptoe, competing for the best spot to hang them. We'd end up with a cluster of ornaments, right in front in the middle of the tree. As I sat in my chair dreaming, I saw again their mischievious smiles, their laughter echoing in my ears.

Now the decorated silk balls that started this tradition, which my two oldest boys got from their grandparents, are as well-loved as the Velveteen Rabbit. The fine fibers that were wrapped about them have been pulled loose into tangled disarray, and the cherubic faces which once graced the simple ornaments are distorted beyond recognition. Their narrow golden hooks, which those small fingers so painstakingly attached to the branches, have long since fallen out, lost in the nether land of the past.

Some of them are holding up better than others, but no matter what condition they are in, once again these ornaments will be perched proudly in the branches of our Christmas "memory" tree. Only now, I will be the one looking for just the perfect spot for each one. And I've passed this tradition on, giving a "Baby's First Christmas" ornament for each new grandbaby that arrives in our family. Nearly thirty years of celebrating as a family have gone by, and yet this tradition still stands.

It reminds me of why we celebrate this season. We do the same thing with our hearts at Christmas time. We are reminded to clean and shovel out the debris that clogs us up. We sweep out the dust of the past, and we can resolve to discard the behaviors that have caused problems. We take the time to remember and reflect. We make space in our lives to commemorate the birth of our Savior. What a sweet reminder of the great love our God has for us.

1 comment:

Becky K. said...